Let’s be honest. Having a child with autism can be difficult. As parents, we envision our children growing up to do what any other child would do. We look forward to their first words, the first book they pick up to read, their graduation and eventually starting a life of their own.
Unfortunately, the diagnosis of autism can shatter those dreams. Initially we look at this diagnosis in horror. We wonder what kind of future our child will have with this kind of label hanging over their head. It’s frightening, discouraging and heart breaking.
However, when this news is delivered we as parents have a choice. Will this diagnosis be a doomed life sentence or will it be a gift? A gift, you ask? Yes, absolutely.
I, like many parents who are on this boat, was crushed by this diagnosis. It was the last thing on earth I wanted for my child. But then, as I watched him grow I began noticing many positive contrasts between him and other children.
Often times I would see a ‘normal’ child throwing a tantrum in the store because they wanted candy or a toy. My son threw tantrums too, but never because he couldn’t have something in the store. That thought never even crossed his mind. Not once did he exhibit that type of behavior.
Over the years other children would offer him rude looks and mock him because of his odd quirks. That broke my heart. My son on the other hand never even noticed. Their bullying didn’t phase him in the least. Instead, he thought they were being silly, so most of the time he just stared at them as if they were crazy.
As he got older, kids would be sharing crude humor among themselves and instead of joining them, my son would pass them by without a second thought. He didn’t understand what their jokes meant and therefore he would find other, more interesting things to occupy his time.
Peer pressure has never been an issue with him. He could care less about smoking, drugs and alcohol. He does however, know what the health risks are behind these activities. Because of that knowledge, he simply ignores these habits of others.
Not only has his autism saved him from having to face many hardships of childhood, it has also helped to mold him into the person he is today.
My son is one of the sweetest children I know. Now, of course as his mother I should say that. But in this case, I sincerely mean it.
He opens doors for those who are coming behind him. Without a second thought, he will open my car door and the doors for any passengers that we may have. He doesn’t do it because he’s asked to. He does it because that’s just who he is.
He is quick to offer something to someone when he knows that they like it. For example, every time his half-brother comes to our door, my son runs to the kitchen to grab a handful of candy to give to him.
If I’m sad, my son will give me a hug.
After grocery shopping he’ll help carry in the bags, unload them and put them away. I don’t ask him to. He wants to help. He wakes up, makes his bed and cleans his room. In fact, he’s never had a messy room. This is not because I tell him to clean it, but because he likes it clean.
He is not like other children. He is free from similarity.
I won’t deny that it’s been a hard road. But, it’s also been a great road.
In my opinion, autism can be seen two ways. As for me, I look at it as a gift. Sure, he might not accomplish all the things that a typical child would, but he’s a not a typical child. In many ways, I’m very grateful for that.
Plus, whoever said that accomplishing those things are what makes you successful in the first place?